Jaguar may not enjoy the long heritage of estate cars common to its premium rivals, but at least its chief designer, Ian Callum, can claim to have been there from the very beginning. The X-type Sportwagon – Jaguar’s original load lugger – was one of the first production Jags to benefit from Callum’s masterly pen strokes. The XF, with all its curvaceous muscularity, bears its elongated roof at least as well.
To support the larger ceiling, the Sportbrake is new from the B-pillars back. Nevertheless, a butch wrap-around shoulder and tapered roofline keep the XF’s tightly tailored body appropriately trim. The boundary of the saloon’s wheelbase is not spilled – the estate shares the same platform – but with the additional metal comes a pinch more presence.
That, along with the obvious practical benefit, is in the plus column. In the minus is the unavoidable weight penalty. On our scales, the Sportbrake lurched over the two-tonne barricade, proving a hefty supplement to the saloon’s 1800kg. To counteract its own poundage – and the extra weight of buyers’ hauling expectations – Jaguar has opted to replace the saloon’s standard coil springs with self-levelling air suspension at the back. It claims that this enhancement, along with comparable torsional stiffness, has permitted it to match the conventional XF’s acclaimed spread of dynamism and rolling refinement.
Certainly, the power delivery will be familiar to the initiated. All of the four-cylinder and V6 diesel engines migrate from its sibling, mated to the same fluid eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The smaller unit, in its 161bhp guise with 55.4mpg potential and lower (135g/km) CO2 emissions, is the most popular option with customers, although, as we'll see, all units have their merit.